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Claire Hoffman–Girls Gone Wild

August 8, 2006

The feminist-leaning blog-world * (of which has myallegiance and readership) is humming about Claire Hoffman’s ‘Baby, Give Me a Kiss’ story in the LA Times. If you haven’t read it, do so now. Then come back. I will wait.

I will talk about Ms. Hoffman’s article, not of content (which is sterling) but
of form and tone. First, her article moves and sounds like a feature of a
news magazine (like the New Yorker or the like) rather than the standard news
format. It appeared in the “Magazine” publication, but I found
it online. This format allows her freedom in writing from a personal
point of view. This pov is crucial and critical to her subject–as well
as damn persuasive to her theme.

OK, her content (I have to take it on) deals with a bio-piece on Joe Francis,
the founder of “Girls Gone Wild” videos. In short, he is an
ass…an ass that is at worst a rapist and a best a misogynist. This is
not news so much as confirmation.

Ms. Hoffman opens frames her expose with a tangible event (very well done–all
comp writers take note): Joe twisting her arm and laying her down on the hood
of a car a-la COPS. She will then return to this incident in the closing,
providing more details and eye-witness accounts. She does so, with this
frame, with a restrained tone. She is not on a screed, but rather
presenting the initial telling in a reporterly sort of way. In the end,
she is lawyerly laying out a case, closing with the devastating clincher (and a
good story has a “gut-punching” clincher) of Joe asking for a kiss
(giving the story a title–another excellent tie in, providing closure and a
sense of symmetry).

A kiss, asked after a physical encounter, evokes a long history of abusive
men–which Hoffman, by only alluding to this dynamic, adds emotional weight to
the story. In between the opening/closing frame, Hoffman details the
public facts of the guy (started with exploitive violence, moved to exploitive
sexuality) and his business (videos of teenagers getting naked sell really
well) and his ethics (not actively investigated, but a case against him having
any is well made).

Hoffman doesn’t present her case with emotional weight. Rather, she sets
up a personal encounter and then develops a profile of the man finishing with
specific actions alleged in court against him, including business fraud,
abusive behavior and a set of rape allegations.

I find her approach both compelling and convincing. Her only lapses come
from a superficial overview of the societal impacts that his approach to female
sexuality, including the flip-side of the exploitation–that being sexual
liberation of young women. While I think necessary to the flow of the
piece, it was not deeply investigated enough to be satisfying…especially
after I finish the article, angry for a broader context in which to affix my
reactions about what I just read. Of course, that was not her intent.

Overall, a brilliant piece: well-paced and impacting. The fact that I
have blogged on it (my first evaluation of a piece on this blog) points to
writing that prompts action. Thanks Ms. Hoffman.

* Below copied verbatim from Ancrenewiseass:
Amanda at Pandagon, Ezra
Klein
, and ZuZu
at Feministe
. Jessica
at Feministing
has an idea for taking action.

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2 Comments
  1. psychgrad permalink
    August 9, 2006 5:07 am

    That’s pretty amazing and disgusting.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    September 10, 2006 2:17 am

    OMG….i cant believe what an assshole Joe Francis is. Makes me rethink that his abduction is an act of karma.

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